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George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Water Music

Suite in F
Suite in D
Suite in G
Sonata from Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno
Music for the Royal Fireworks

Nicolas Kynaston organ (Sonata only)
Virtuosi of England
Wind Virtuosi of England
Arthur Davison conductor
Recorded Fairfield Hall Croydon (Water Music) January 1974, Conway Hall (Fireworks Music) 1970, Royal Festival Hall (Sonata) November 1972
EMI Classics for Pleasure 5748812[74.27] Superbudget price


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When the young Canadian violinist Arthur Davison went to pay for a lesson, his Royal College of Music Professor, Albert Sammons, waved him away – "Pass it on, just pass it on." This, throughout his subsequent conducting career, is precisely what Davison has tried to do, succeeding admirably in new music by such as Hoddinott and Mathias and in creative work with the LPO and his Concerts for Children amongst many other accomplishments.

That said I didn’t quite warm to the three suites from the Water Music. The orchestra is virtuosic, the conception not at all mired in textual and musicological ignorance, repeats are often made, the sound quality has clarity and balances are good. And yet. Davison often fails to give lift and inflection to lines, tempi occasionally solidify and congeal, and the suites tend to emerge unvaried and somewhat unyielding. The 1970 performance of the Music for the Royal Fireworks is appositely muscular and grand – though nothing like as much as Mackerras’s revolutionary 1959 recording. At super-budget price the recordings still sound well, are simply but attractively packaged and feature on the cover an evocative painting (by William James) of the Thames circa 1750. I did sometimes wish Davison’s conducting, for all its virtues, had been similarly inspiring.

Jonathan Woolf


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